Do you ever cheat on a book? You know what I mean, and it could be either a book you're reading or one you're writing. I'll confess that sometimes, if a book I'm reading doesn't quite intrigue me all the way through, I'll see a prettier one sitting on the shelf just waiting for some attention, and I'll pick it up without finishing the first. Usually, that's it for my relationship with the first book. If you go back to it, where do you start? You can't really start over, knowing that it didn't work out last time. You can't really pick it back up where you left off once you've lost your connection with that world. I guess if you wait enough years, you forget everything and can start back up like strangers. That's what I did with The Hobbit. I tried reading it in elementary or middle school, but it was just too—something. Wordy? Obtuse? Over my head? I read it a few years later and loved it.
I cheated on Stranger in a Strange Land, and I haven't gone back to it. It's been two years, and I was less than a quarter of the way through. Kind of makes me sad, because I was so excited to read it. I mean, I bought it for crying out loud. It's still on the shelf.
Robinson Crusoe? Tried it as a kid, and it wasn't at all what I expected. (I mean, who'd have thought it was, like, two hundred years old?) Never read it.
I don't know if cheating on a book you're actually writing is worse, but it's probably easier. That kind of relationship is easier to come back to. You've got more invested. I had a brief dalliance last month with a new book idea. I never actually started writing, or even outlining, but I sure thought about the new book a lot. It's an exotic, very original idea, with great characters.
It didn't last long, though. I returned to my current project, and the closer I got to the end, the more I fell in love with it all over again. Maybe it helps that it's changed so much during this rewrite. We're very happy together right now, and I hope that romance lasts a little longer. Then, once our relationship is complete, I can move wholeheartedly onto the next one.
Well, not exactly. For awhile there, I'll have to practice bigamy. Whew. Took that metaphor a little too far, eh?